Erich Hans Taeger was 22 years old when he went out bar hopping with friends one night in March 2000.
A member of the Army National Guard, Taeger and friends were blowing off some steam before a deployment to Bosnia. His commanding officer designated a driver, but the group split up as they moved to different bars and Taeger was left without a sober ride home.
Cory Ortiz, a 27-year-old soldier from Ohio, had a few beers in him, but said he was fine to drive. He wasn't.
"We've all said it. We've all done it," said Emily Marino, Taeger's sister. "When I see my children, and I'm out on the road, it's all I can think about. I don't want anyone else to go through what my parents are still going through."
Ortiz fell asleep at the wheel. The car veered across the road to wrap around a tree trunk. Taeger, in the passenger seat, was pinned against the tree and killed instantly. Ortiz died in a nearby hospital two days later.
That was 12 years ago. Today, Marino is a tireless champion for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a national group dedicated to stopping drunk driving and supporting the victims of drunk drivers. Marino has volunteered for three years now. She would have joined earlier, but she thought she had to be a mom to qualify, so she waited until her daughters were born, she said. Marino later found out motherhood is not a requirement to volunteer for MADD.
She speaks on victim impact panels in Stockton and Sacramento, and gives student presentations at Sacramento and Galt high schools. Marino also goes out to DUI checkpoints with police officers to hand out pamphlets and talk to drivers.
Marino tries to avoid statistics when she's giving a presentation. All of those people have names, families and stories, she said.
She is the captain of Team Erich Hans, a fundraising team gearing up for the annual Walk Like MADD 5K event in Sacramento, coming up in October. Right now, the focus is on a silent auction. Local businesses and individuals have made donations to themed baskets that will be auctioned off at Marino's MADD booth at the Lodi Grape Festival.
"I do it because I get to talk about it. People don't know how to react," she said. Volunteering and giving presentations is an outlet for Marino to keep her brother's memory alive.
Taeger loved the military, and always planned to follow in his father and grandfather's footsteps. He planned to work at a military journalist while deployed overseas.
Today, Taeger would be 35 years old. Instead of a birthday card, Marino has a photo of his grave marker that she takes to her presentations.
"I should have another sister-in-law. He should know my kids. I should know his kids. But I don't," she said. "I want people to fully grasp the consequences."
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.